Mindfulness is the simple act of being completely in the moment, fully aware of what you're doing and where you are, and not excessively reacting to or getting exhausted by your environment.
For entrepreneurs and business leaders, mindfulness offers some unique benefits as reported by WLC For Business:
- 66% leaders better managed stress
- 60% had increased focus and better decision-making
- 46% experienced an increase in innovation and creativity
Mindful leadership means being able to take a truthful look at yourself and regularly posing questions about yourself. As a thought leader and business owner, it also means leading without arrogance, leading by example, leading with humility, and appreciating and recognizing the efforts of your clients, students, and peers.
Mindful business leaders also communicate with compassion and know how to balance their emotions — whether they're angry, frustrated, or tired, they don't let their emotions rule their decisions or actions at work.
In this piece, we'll delve into why mindfulness is important for your knowledge commerce business and how to be a more mindful leader.
Benefits of mindfulness in the workplace and business
According to Behavioral Essentials, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini initiated the company’s mindfulness program after a ski accident. Aetna partnered with the American Viniyoga Institute and eMindful to launch a pilot program with 239 employees.
Now, more than one-quarter of Aetna’s work force of 50,000 has participated in at least one mindfulness class. Those who participated in the program reported, on average, a 28% reduction in their stress levels, a 20% improvement in sleep quality, and a 19% reduction in pain.
They also became more effective on the job, gaining an average of 62 minutes per week of productivity, each. Aetna estimates the value of that added productivity to be $3,000 per employee per year. Additionally, Aetna is seeing a decrease in healthcare costs.
But you don’t have to be an enterprise organization to benefit from mindfulness. Here are a few advantages of mindfulness for every size of business.
Enhanced task performance
Mindfulness prevents cognitive failures such as distraction, forgetting, and blunders, and thus improves performance at work. If you're living in the moment, you're less prone to errors and mistakes that may prove costly to your business. You’re also going to get more done each time you sit down to a task.
Enhanced efficiency increases your productivity, and helps you complete more meaningful work each day.
You've probably heard of the term "gut feeling." That's nothing but intuition — a secret sense that tells you if something is right or not.
Since mindful people are more aware of their inner voice and self, they're more likely to have powerful intuitions about what may be right or wrong for their business. At times, intuition may be your best bet when making important decisions, possibly even more powerful than data and expert opinions.
One of the prerequisites of being creative is the ability to let your brain relax or daydream. Daydreaming activates the default mode network of your brain, which is responsible for making new connections and helping you solve complex problems.
Mindful people find it easier to switch off miscellaneous thoughts like the day’s to-do list, what to prepare for dinner, and so on, and so their brain can relax and think of creative ideas and solutions.
Increased satisfaction and less burnout
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1999), 26% of workers say that they are “often or very often stressed at work.” Stress can have an impact on your performance as a digital entrepreneur.
When you’re launching and growing a business, it can get chaotic. You’re responsible for doing everything. And everything is urgent. If you don’t pace yourself, you can easily experience burnout.
This is an area where mindfulness can be especially helpful. Instead of reacting emotionally to the crisis du jour, a mindful person will stop to process their feelings, refocus their attention, and address the situation from a practical perspective.
By reacting to stress in a more thoughtful manner, mindful people are able to derive more joy at work.
Improved social relationships
Businesses are built on relationships: relationships with partners, peers, and customers. And as luck would have it, mindfulness leads to better social relationships. Keeping these relationships positive can actually buffer the impacts of business stressors, helping you stay creative and happy even when dealing with challenges.
Glomb et al. (2012) suggest that mindfulness furthers positive social connections in business because it boosts flexibility and empathy among people.
People who exercise mindfulness are more likely to accept people as they are, without bias, and be more accepting of different personalities.
Ready to bring mindfulness to your daily activities?
There are five keys to developing the practice of mindfulness:
Intention: know what you seek
The first key to boosting your mindfulness is to know what you wish to achieve or accomplish. Intentions don’t have to represent faraway goal posts. An intention can be as simple as what you want to achieve on a given day, what behaviors you want to avoid, and which actions you want to embrace.
Clear intention helps you design a work and personal life you’re happy to live.
Attention: be present and observant
Pay close attention to everyday activities and experiences, even if they’re repetitive and mundane. Presence of mind helps you avoid errors and think of creative solutions to problems, whereas inattention leads to feelings of discontentment and boredom.
For instance, if you create online courses, you may find yourself doing certain activities on autopilot, like writing course material or completing admin tasks for your course. Attention and awareness can help you write better course materials or think of ways to reduce admin work.
Alignment: live and work in alignment with your inner values
Just as companies have core values, each individual does too. For instance, some individuals may believe in sustainable living, while others may value honesty and integrity above all else.
Whatever your inner values, you can’t achieve mindfulness without staying true to them. If you stray from your inner value system, you’ll no longer find joy in running your business, and you’ll fail to live mindfully.
When you’re running your business, practicing mindfulness in sales can make sure your business supports your core values. Many knowledge entrepreneurs seek to share their knowledge and have a positive impact on their audiences and communities. Being mindful in how you sell, what digital products you sell, and to whom you sell can ensure you’re satisfied with how you achieved your success.
Acceptance: imperfections, mistakes in ourselves as well as others
Accept that you’re capable of making errors and that you’re not perfect. This is also true for anyone you work with. Once you embrace shortcomings and failures, you find it easier to overcome, avoid, and overlook them.
On the other hand, if you keep beating up yourself or those around you for failures and imperfections, you only create a negative work environment for yourself. You also find it difficult to move past your imperfections to reach your goals.
Attitude: don’t judge
The last key to mindfulness is having a good attitude, one that is non-judgmental, kind, and patient. As a digital entrepreneur, you’ll be dealing with clients and collaborators from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, and with different stories.
If you wish to establish a good relationship with collaborators and develop meaningful products for customers, you’ll need to be open to different kinds of people and experiences. This is the only way to empathize with other people and work effectively with them.
How to be consciously mindful in your business
Now you now why mindfulness matters and how to begin practicing mindfulness, let's take a look at a few simple ways to bring mindfulness into business:
1. Be consciously present
Being mindful at work means paying attention to what's happening around you, as well as what's happening to you internally.
For instance, let's say you're writing an article at work. Being mindful means paying complete attention to this task. If and when your mind wanders, admit the existence of those thoughts, but then refocus your attention on the task at hand.
Of course, this is easier said than done. There may be various places your mind wanders: upcoming tasks on your to-do list, a personal problem, or a conflict with a vendor or customer.
No matter what the cause of distraction, tell yourself you'll deal with it after your current task is complete.
If you find yourself worrying about problems you can't find a solution to, schedule a "worry hour" each day or week, so these thoughts don't interrupt your workflow. If an unexpected worry does pop into your mind, you know you have a special hour to think about it later.
2. Use short mindful exercises at work
Mindful exercises train your brain to be more actively present in the moment. Mindful exercise can be as short or as long as your schedule permits, but the key is to perform them regularly.
One of the simplest mindfulness exercises is mindful breathing; an exercise you can do anywhere at any time. For a few minutes a day, forget everything and just breathe. Breathe in slowly, take about three seconds to draw a breath, and then exhale calmly. Breathe in through your nose, then exhale through your mouth.
Start with sessions of two to three minutes, then slowly increase to five to ten minutes.
Applications like Headspace, Buddhify, Ten Percent Happier, Calm, Mindfulness Daily can also help you practice mindful exercises on a more regular basis.
3. Be a single-tasker
You may think you can juggle content creation with client calls, or listen to podcasts while editing, but truth be told, multitasking is bad for your brain. In 2011, the University of California, San Francisco, published a research study showing how quickly shifting from one task to another impacts short-term memory.
The more you try to do at once, the more mistakes you make. This is likely because your brain can only focus on one task at a time.
To nip the habit of multitasking, start keeping a time journal. In the journal, write what you achieved in a particular period of time, and note down instances when you are single tasking and multitasking. Then, think about how mindful you were during each of those tasks and how much you achieved. This creative mindfulness can help as you develop your knowledge content.
Another piece of advice is to turn your phone off while doing a particular task. Notifications from various applications are a major source of distraction and lead to multitasking.
4. Take some time to reflect each day
Self-reflection allows you to think about your behavior and reactions to different situations, and work on improving them. Self-reflection helps increase mindfulness at work by making you more aware of your shortcomings and strengths.
In the beginning of the day, spend a few minutes thinking about what you want to achieve in the day. Don't think about work-related achievements alone. Think about personal achievements too.
How do you want to spend time with your family? How do you hope to keep your temper in control? Make a note of each of these answers.
At the end of the day, think about all the events you went through. Was your behavior on par with your expectations? Did you react too harshly when you should have stayed calm? How can you avoid such responses in the future?
Over time, self-reflection can help you mold your behaviors and work in a way that makes you more content.
5. Slow down to speed up
Slowing, or even halting for a bit, can help you become more productive, efficient, and happier at work.
When you slow down, you are making mindful choices. You move away from the super fast or “sympathetic” nervous system, towards the slower, more logical “parasympathetic” nervous system. In other words, you get out of auto-pilot mode and make more rational decisions.
Slowing down also helps you be more meticulous at work and reduce errors that may cost your business dearly.
To slow down, reduce the number of tasks in your daily to-do list and give sufficient time to each task. Say no to work and personal commitments you don't have time for, so you can focus on tasks and events that truly matter.
6. Make stress your friend
It sounds odd, but the way you look at stress actually affects your health and well-being. The researchers at Mindful.org did studies and found that the individuals, who experience a lot of stress but think that it is good for them, have the lowest mortality rates. In contrast, really stressed individuals who thought stress was bad for them had the biggest chance of dying.
When faced with a stressful situation in your business, notice the acceleration of your heart rate, and then remind yourself that this stress response is refreshing. Be thankful for it.
Ultimately, changing your perspective towards stress helps you see it as a positive thing and increases productivity and performance at work.
3 mindfulness exercises for digital entrepreneurs
We’ve covered the main keys to mindfulness and how to be more mindful in your business. Here are three specific exercises for entrepreneurs to practice being more mindful:
Journaling can be a good way to note down your thoughts, intentions, and observations, so you don’t mindlessly glide through the day. Journaling is also known to alleviate stress and anxiety.
To start journaling, pick a physical diary or an online tool like Notion or Evernote. At the beginning or end of each day, spend a few minutes thinking about your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. Note down significant events and how they made you feel. Capture things you want to achieve and what you can do about them.
Don’t treat your journal as a place to merely capture goals. Instead, keep it a safe space to express your feelings and emotions.
Meditation is the practice of focusing your attention to one activity, like breathing in and out, and eliminating stressful thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to increase self-awareness and better control your emotions.
As we’ve seen before, focusing on your breath and breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly is one of the simplest ways to meditate. Meditation may also include other forms like guided imagery, yoga, and focused attention meditation. Here is a list of meditation exercises to get you started.
If you find it easier to focus your thoughts while performing some physical activity rather than sitting in one place, try walking for 15-20 minutes to clear your head.
Walking is not just good for your physical health, it can also be a good time to reflect on your day or work-related problems. Each time you’re stuck on a problem or just need some air, try to take a quick walk, if possible. Try not to think of the problem at hand and instead let your mind wander, and you’ll find the solution quickly enough.
It’s also a good idea to begin your day with a short walk, so you can start work energized and attentive.
You can go about your workday without a thought to the way you work or react to tough situations. Or you could slow down, think critically about each business issue you face, make more informed decisions, and build a more successful business.
The choice is yours. Make it a mindful one.
Getting started with Kajabi
If you’re looking to start an online business that gives you the freedom to live how you want and incorporate your values into your work, you need Kajabi.
With Kajabi, you get all the tools you need to sell digital information products. You’ll get product hosting to sell online courses, sell membership website access, host a coaching program or podcast, and sell digital files. Plus, you get a website, email marketing, contact management, analytics, payment processing, and professionally designed templates - all the tools you need to run a thriving business.
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